Jan. 10, 2015
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The turn of the calendar means it’s time to circle the track on the University of Iowa campus.
The Iowa track and field team opens its indoor season today hosting Missouri and Illinois in the inaugural Border Battle. UI director of track and field Joey Woody said the Hawkeyes’ fall training went well in his first season at the helm, and he’s optimistic the work done before the new year will pay off when the falling leaves turn to falling snow.
“The fall is the most critical (time) of our training,” said Woody. “We put in a lot of good work and overall the team spirits are high about the upcoming season.”
The Iowa men are led on the track by sophomore Aaron Mallett and senior Keith Brown. Mallett led the team in the 110-meter (13.86) and 400-meter hurdles (51.78) during the 2014 outdoor season. He ran a collegiate-best 7.88 in the 60-meter hurdles at the 2014 Big Ten Indoor Championships, a time that ranks fourth in Iowa’s all-time record book.
“Last year I focused more on other people and not myself,” Mallett said. “If I focus on what I need to get done, I know I have the capacity to compete with the best.”
Brown finished last season as an All-American, anchoring the 400-meter relay that placed sixth at the 2014 NCAA Championships (39.55). He also anchored the school record-setting 400-meter relay (39.19), as well as the winning 400-meter relay at the 2014 Big Ten Championships.
Of course the Hawkeye men are just one of two 400-meter conference champions on campus. Brittany Brown, Elexis Guster, Lake Kwaza, and MonTayla Holder won the women’s title at the Big Ten Championships.
“My goal for this season is to win a Big Ten Championship for myself and for the team, as well as make it to nationals and become an All-American,” said Kwaza, who earned second team All-America honors last year. “With the group of girls that we have this year, we should be able to have a pretty good group going to nationals.”
The Hawkeye women return every member of their school record-setting 400-meter and 1,600-meter relays. The team of Kwaza and sophomores Guster, Alexis Hernandez, and Brown made their way into the record books with a first-place performance (44.51) at the 2014 Drake Relays, while a similar group of Guster, Hernandez, Holder, and Kwaza rewrote Iowa’s 1,600-meter relay record at last season’s Arkansas Spring Invite in 3:34.83.
“I can’t control where we place in the Big Ten. All I can control is that we are ready when we get to the Big Ten meet,” said associate head coach Clive Roberts. “We will do everything possible, and I will do everything in my power (to make sure the group) is ready for the Big Ten Championships.”
The 2015 Big Ten Indoor Championships are Feb. 27-28 in Geneva, Ohio.